Elorza takes office as Providence mayor
Jorge Elorza took office Monday as the 38th mayor of Providence, telling hundreds gathered in front of City Hall that Rhode Island's capital is still regaining its footing after years of challenging finances.
"We still face difficult times, with projected deficits in the upcoming years," Elorza said during his public inauguration ceremony. "Tough decisions and fiscal restraint will continue to be necessary to ensure that we remain on firm ground."
Elorza pledged to ensure that city government is transparent, ethical, accountable and easy to navigate. He said he would ask public employees for ideas on how to improve the workplace, and he and his staff and department heads would spend more time in neighborhoods listening to concerns and focusing on the "nuts and bolts" issues.
"I want potholes to be filled even before they're reported. I want our building permits to be ready for pick up even before the date they're due. I want a parent to plan her morning knowing fully that the school bus will arrive on time. All of this is within our grasp," he said.
Among those who attended was Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo, who is scheduled to be sworn in Tuesday.
"Today is an exciting day for the city of Providence," said Raimondo, who lives in the city. "I am overflowing with optimism."
She pledged to work together with Elorza and said they made a great team.
Elorza, 38, was officially sworn in at midnight Monday at his home in a private ceremony with around 50 friends and family members, said his spokesman, David Ortiz.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Elorza was a professor at Roger Williams University School of Law and a municipal housing court judge when he decided to run for mayor. He grew up poor in the city, the son of parents who emigrated from Guatemala and worked in factories to support him and his older sister. He thanked them in his speech in remarks sprinkled with Spanish.
"You are my heroes and everything I do is to make sure that all your efforts and all of your sacrifices were not in vain," he told them.
Elorza also said his administration would audit the organizational structure of the Providence school department as part of his work to improve schools, work to eliminate abandoned homes and build on the city's reputation as a hub of arts and culture by starting a summer arts and culture festival.
Elorza succeeds fellow Democrat Angel Taveras, who leaves office after a single, four-year term. Taveras ran unsuccessfully for governor, losing to Raimondo in the September primary.
Elorza defeated the city's longest-serving mayor, Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr., in the November election. Cianci was forced from office twice due to felonies.